Seminar 3 Outline – November 17, 2020

Community Peace and Justice Network – November 17, 2020
Race Together: Learnings about and Race and Racism in America
Seminar Leader: Arturo Pierre Lewis

Orientation: Basic Terms and Concepts

Chapter Objectives—after reading Chapter One of Majority-Minority Relations (Book by John E. Farley) you should be able to:

  • Describe the reasons for studying race relations in American society.
  • Define basic terms used in race relations. 
  • Examine the issue of race in terms of how it is defined, measured and used in the United States Census.
  • Discuss the application of the terms “minority” and “majority” to groups within a society and the debate about the continued use of these terms. 
  • Discuss the different aspects of racism which include types of prejudice and discrimination.

Race: People who are physically distinct.

Race is physical and social.

Physical has to do with a distinct difference from other groups.

Social Characteristics have to do with group identity.

The group itself distinguishes what its identity is.

Society determines what Race is.

Race is a social construct.

Racial Group: A group of people of the same race who interact with one another and who develop some common cultural characteristics.

. Social and Political consequences are the reasons that people are categorized by race and racial groups.

Ethnic Groups: People recognized by themselves and or by others as a distinct group based on social or cultural characteristics (nationality, language, and religion).

. This is important to some but not for all.

. Psychologically important to some b/c they have a need to identify with ethnicity.

. People are treated differently based on race and ethnicity.

. People are socially defined, not biologically defined.

. Society defines, and at times determines a person’s value based on their race when their race which is biologically determined should not determine a human being’s worth.

One Drop Rule: One Drop Rule (traditional/antiquated) has to do with persons of mixed Black and White ancestry.

. People like this were automatically placed by society into a Black Group and not a White Group or a Mixed Group.

. Doing this ostracized these persons and in the majority White controlled society they became less than White and therefore less than what is best.

. U.S. Census workers once classified Mixed Race People as non-whites so as to maintain discrimination.

. This was an attempt to discourage Whites (especially women) from marrying African Americans and later, other ethnic minorities.

. Multiracial People in America have been treated mostly as non-people historically.

. American society forces people to choose a race.

. At times there has been a need for a “group affiliation” for some in order to carry out Civil Rights activities.

Majority Group: A social Group that is dominant in a society.

. This group enjoys and benefits more than an equal and fair share of the wealth, power, and social status in its society.  

. Most of the time as in the U.S., the majority group is a numerical majority; not so in South Africa, pre-apartheid.

Minority Group:  A group that has been assigned a subordinate role in society.  This group has less of a share in the wealth, power, and social status.  Minority Groups are usually numerical minorities.

. The Majority Group has a dominant role in American society whereas the Minority Group is subordinate.

Racism: Any attitude, belief, behavior, or institutional arrangement that tends to favor one racial or ethnic group (usually a majority group) over another (usually a minority group).

Racial Prejudice: The attitude form of racism which has to do with the way people think.

. This has to do with the way people think and less to do with behavior.

. The prejudice can be obvious (overt) or subtle and indirect.

Ideological Racism/Racist Ideology: The belief that one race is superior to another biologically, intellectually, culturally, temperamentally, or morally.

. This kind of thinking often rationalizes or justifies domination of one race or ethnic group over another and it becomes institutionalized and widely accepted within a culture or society. 

Individual Discrimination: Behavior by individuals that leads to unequal treatment on the basis of race or ethnicity.

. An example of this is a non-Latino store owner refusing to serve a Latino person. 

Institutional Discrimination: An arrangement or practice within a social institution or its related organizations that tends to favor one racial or ethnic group (usually the majority group) over another.

. A deliberate example is discriminatory repression voting laws or subtle decisions to locate jobs in suburban or rural locations where inner city people cannot get to them.

Stereotype: An exaggerated belief associated with a category such as a group of people.

Scapegoating: A tendency to take out one’s feelings of frustration and aggression against someone or something other than the true source of the feelings.

DWB: Driving while Black or Brown 

“Stop and Frisk” e.g. Racial Profiling.

Socioeconomic Status and Prejudice: Economic Insecurity and Prejudice toward others from a different economic group.

Discussion Questions 

  1. What does it mean to say that race is a socially constructed concept? 
  2. What is the difference between a race and an ethnic group, and what do the two concepts have in common? 
  3. Create two lists—one of groups that fit the sociological definition of a majority group and one of groups that fit the sociological definition of a minority group. Explain briefly why each group belongs on the list where you placed it. 
  4. Now, make another list. This list should consist of groups that may represent ambiguous cases—one in which one might the argument either that the group is a race or that it is an ethnic group. Compare this list and the ones you made for item 3 with other students in the class. Do they agree or disagree? Why?
  5. What is institutional racism and why is it important?

Web Links
Link to census discussion of racial categories and the actual questions from the 2000 census is shown
Race on the 2010 Census: Hispanics & the Shrinking White Majority.  Journal article by Ian Haney Lopez; Daedalus, Vol. 134, 2005
Website for PBS series: Race: the Power of Illusion.
Website for PSB series: Matters of Race.
A website developed by the Social Science Research Council on the topic “Is Race ‘Real’?”

Key Words and terms

Dominant group
Ethnic group
Ideological racism
Individual discrimination
Institutional discrimination

Institutional racism
Majority group
Minority group


Racial group
Racist ideology
Social institutions
Subordinate group

Page 1: Orientation: Basic Terms and Concepts (Majority-Minority Relations – Book by John E. Farley)
Page 2: Socio-Historical Orientation of Institutional Racism